The garden, mid-AugustAugust 30, 2010
This post may be late but the photos were taken around the middle of the month.
This August, our fourth on the island, has been a record breaker. The intense high summer heat has been higher than usual and more troubling has lasted much longer than it normally does. Cypriot tradition states that the weather starts to ease after the big holiday on August 15, the Assumption of the Virgin. This year that simply hasn’t happened. Now, in the last days of August, the temperatures are as high as they were as the start of the month. The forecast suggests that by the middle of next week we might see a drop of one or two degrees.
Meanwhile the Government continues to issue severe weather warnings and the Fire and Forestry departments battle to deal with local wildfires, many of them believed to have been started deliberately. The blog is still receiving a fair number of visitors who are searching for information about Cyprus heatwaves.
The garden has gone into a strange summer hibernation; apart from the citrus and the bougainvillea nothing is growing. Regular watering is preventing things dying but the plants seem to have slipped into a stasis mode. Once the temperatures drops they should start showing signs of life once more but for now they are in a deep sleep, and not looking particularly photogenic as a result.
The citrus trees are taking things in their stride though; tiny green fruit are slowly growing and swelling. The new season lemons are some way off being ripe and for now the only yellow lemons in the supermarkets are imported. It is the time of the lemon drought in Cyprus. Happily we’ve still got supplies of both frozen juice and sliced lemons to see us through.
The mandarin tree is still giving some cause for concern. Last year we had hundreds of fruit, this year we feared that we had none. Blossom was very sparse and no blossom means no fruit. We’ve now spotted a few clusters of tiny mandarins, and they look to be progressing well, but it is a very poor crop compared to last year. It looks like we might get 30 or 40 mandarins as opposed to the thousand or so we had last year. Clearly we missed a vital part of the annual maintenance but what?
Our old friend, the yucca plant, produced another set of offsets before the temperature got too high. We missed the chance to remove them when they were very small so a hacksaw may be needed to separate them from the main tree now. They are incredibly resilient; remove them from the tree and put them straight into a pot and they will start to grow. They will even cope with being put straight into the ground with no other care. They will grow in the poorest soil with no additional feeding and only minimal watering. In Aradippou a friend gifted us half a dozen offsets; within two years they’d grown to over four feet tall and were producing offsets of their own. To be honest, anyone with a yucca here is always looking for someone with a new garden who needs fast growing plants.
And finally while the bougainvillea continues to grow it is also starting to drop its coloured bracts. And a plant as large as ours has an awful lot of them. This carpet below would fill five or six dustbins … if only the heat would ease so that we had the energy to shovel them up.